A Performative Assessment

For the Summer Institute on Making Sense of Change 2005

Julie Williams

Meteorology: Before and After the Institute

Before the Institute...

Meteorology lesson on weather instruments. Today's instrument, a WIND VANE.

How to Make a Wind Vane

Purpose: To make an instrument that will demonstrate the direction from which the wind is blowing.


  1. Gather the following materials:
    a. One new unsharpened pencil, with an eraser.
    b. One straw (do not pull the bendy part apart if it has one)
    c. One straight pin
    d. One index card
    e. Pair of scissors
    f. Masking tape
  2. Draw a triangular shape at one end of the index card as shown below. Cut out the triangular part and set aside.
  3. Tape the triangular side to one end of the straw. Tape the remaining part to the other end of the straw. (It should look like an arrow!)
  4. Take the pin and insert it into the straw through the center so the "arrow" is evenly centered. Push the pin into the top of the eraser. The arrow part should be parallel to the table if you lay the pencil on the table.
  5. Line up at the door when you are finished. Your teacher will take you outside when everyone is done.
  6. When you are outside, spread apart from you classmates and hold your wind vane up. Look around at your classmates. Are all of your arrows pointing in the same direction? Why is this happening? What is it telling us?

After the Institute...

The same objective will be met with much less teacher direction. It will go something like this...

"Now that we have dicussed why winds play such an important role in forecasting the weather, in what ways do we observe the wind?
I would like you to create an instrument that will help you observe the wind. You may work with a partner.
There are materials on the back table you may use or you may bring things from home. Make sure to include some unit of measure, which will depend on what you are measuring. Tomorrow, each pair will demonstrate and describe their insturment. You may even give it a name!"

Questions to ask (if the team does not include in their description and the class does not ask):

  • What is it called?
  • How will it measure?
  • What will it measure?
  • How did you come up with the idea?
  • What will it tell us?
  • How will it work?
  • How do you know it will work?
  • Why did you choose that instrument?

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